Wondering if it’s possible to improve your own or another senior’s memory? Help definitely exists. And you don’t have to buy some overhyped “miracle” brain booster in order to start enhancing your ability to remember things. In fact, many of the most effective ways to gain a better memory involve actions that you can take today—without spending tons of money.
Of course, it’s natural to worry about the kind of memory decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia that require memory care. But did you know that, according to an article in The BMJ, only about one in 10 people over the age of 65 develop mild cognitive impairment (which can sometimes mimic very mild dementia)? It’s true. And only around 15 percent of those people develop Alzheimer’s.
So our fears and expectations are often exaggerated. In a Pew Research Center survey, about 57 percent of younger adults between the ages of 18 and 64 said that they expect to have memory loss during their senior years. However, only about 25 percent of older adults over the age of 65 said they actually experience memory loss. That’s a big gap.
Nevertheless, everybody wants to retain their memory. After all, memories form a major part of who we are. When we lose them, we feel like we lose pieces of ourselves. Plus, having a good memory serves all kinds of practical functions in our daily lives. Every single day, your memory helps you accomplish both basic and complex tasks. So it’s vital to keep your brain as healthy and fit as possible.
Older adults who take proactive steps to prevent memory loss are often more adaptable, independent, and satisfied during their senior years. That’s because the human brain has an amazing ability to change, collect new information, create new neural connections, and store important information in its long-term memory. By developing good habits and seeking out new learning opportunities, you can also improve or maintain your short-term memory (aka your working memory).
Plus, the field of neuroscience is still relatively young. With each passing year, scientists are discovering things about the human brain that we never knew before. In the future, we may be able to retrieve “lost” memories and improve our cognitive abilities with brain implants or targeted electrical stimulation. Genetic research may also lead to preventive therapies or targeted treatments that stop or reverse memory loss.
In the meantime, here are some of the best tips for maintaining or improving your memory:
- Use the method of loci and other practical tricks
- Get your health checked
- Keep challenging yourself
- Improve your sleep habits
- Change your mindset about aging
- Remove distractions and sources of stress
- Take time to do absolutely nothing
- Get frequent exercise
- Socialize and have fun
- Consider dietary changes
- Be careful with supplements